FYI Miami: February 27, 2014
PRICE RISES VARY: Consumer prices in South Florida rose 1.9% last year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week, but the overall rise masked broad deviations in various categories of expenditure. For example, the cost of apparel rose 7.8% during the year while the cost of food rose less than a percentage point, 0.8%. Even in the food category, price increases were wide apart: food at home for the year rose only 0.1%, but the cost of eating out rose 2.6%. Energy prices increased 1.4% for the year in South Florida, with electricity rising only 0.4% but motor fuel rising 2% and piped gas rising 3.8%. The cost of household furnishings and operations actually fell 3.4%, but the cost of housing rent rose 2.6% and the owner’s equivalent of rent rose 2.2%, the agency reported. Medical care rose 3.6%, transportation 1.4% and education and communications 1.3%
CASH STILL KING: All-cash sales of residential real estate in Miami-Dade County dipped to 62% of closed sales in January, down from 65% in January 2013 but still far above the national average of 33%, according to the Miami Association of Realtors and the local Multiple Listing Service. Of single-family home sales, 47.3% in Miami-Dade last month were all cash, down from 50.1% in January 2013. For condominium sales, the percentage was far higher at 72.4% all cash last month, down from 75.4% a year earlier. The association noted that 90% of all foreign buyer sales in Florida are in cash, indicating the strong international presence in the Miami market.
HEALTHY HOTELS: Miami hotels were second in the nation in the three key indicators of health last month, trailing only Oahu Island, Hawaii, in each category. Room rates in Greater Miami were $221.42, up 5.5% from the prior January. Miami’s revenue per available room was $180.99, up 3.7% from a year earlier. Occupancy was 79.3%, down 1.7% from the prior January, according to figures provided by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Orlando appeared among the top five markets only in occupancy, at 72%, up 4.3% from the prior January.
ALLEY STAYS STRONG: The Florida Department of Transportation’s $34.1 million outstanding revenue bonds for Alligator Alley, the I-75 link to the Naples area from Southeast Florida, have been affirmed at an A+ rating from Fitch Ratings. Fitch noted that traffic on the roadway rose 6.2% from Oct. 1 through December and revenue rose 8.1%. Trucks were 8% of total traffic but provided about a quarter of toll revenue. In the year ended Sept. 30, traffic rose 1% though cash tolls were increased to $3 from $2.50 and SunPass tolls rose to $2.75 from $2. “Toll rates are low on a per mile basis at $0.042,” Fitch said.